A pet lamb has died after it was repeatedly kicked by a youth while tied to a fence unable to escape, with its injuries likened to being hit by a car or shot with a rifle.
The lamb's 8-year-old owner, Ella, said she saw the incident happen last Friday at the Oropi School Calf Club, just after the 10-week-old lamb had won the Supreme Award at the event.
Mother Sarah Ensor said Ella saw a youth kicking the award-winning lamb and told him to stop. He then fled.
I've never seen Ella so upset in her life. It's heart breaking.
Ms Ensor said Ella did not know the extent her lamb had been hurt, possibly by the youth, and had not mentioned the incident.
"Her lamb was quite slow after that, I just thought she was tired from the day," Ms Ensor said.
They had returned home with the lamb, and at 4pm they noticed she was "maa-ing" differently, so Ella checked on her pet.
"She started screaming and calling me and crying," Ms Ensor said.
The lamb, which had been with the family since it was 4 days old, died later that evening.
"She must have been in so much pain, she was only a baby. She was more than a sheep, she was part of the family, everyone loved her. It's very upsetting."
"I've never seen Ella so upset in her life. It's heart breaking," Ms Ensor said.
Ella had spent hours with Crystal each day training with her for the event.
"She was a really amazing lamb and I loved her so much, she did so well," Ella said.
Pictures of the lamb's internal injuries had been sent to a local vet, the judge of the Calf Club, the SPCA and farmer Brent Bishop, who knows the family.
Mr Bishop said there looked as if there was a lot of internal bleeding, probably coming from the liver.
"The whole bowel was filled with blood, the kidney was split and damaged and also inside the stomach, the muscle was all bruised and bloody," Mr Bishop said.
He likened Crystal's injuries to another sheep which had been hit by a car, or the damage inflicted by a high-powered rifle when the bullet goes through the gut area.
Oropi School principal Andrew King read the Bay of Plenty Times a written statement, which included the following points:
"Ella Ensor's lamb very sadly died suddenly shortly after calf club day. This is a very devastating situation for the family to have gone through and, on behalf of the school, I wish to pass on our condolences, particularly as the lamb had won the competition and Ella was going on to represent Oropi School.
"It is possible this lamb has died as result of trauma, the school has proactively made contact with a number of experts but no confirmed information is conclusive.
"The school would like to know if anyone noticed any unusual behaviour from a person during the day. If anyone has any information, make direct contact with the principal."
Ms Ensor said she did not hold the school responsible.
"They're absolutely gutted. The biggest thing is I want kids to be taught to respect and care for animals." Ms Ensor said.
Tauranga SPCA animal welfare inspector Jason Blair said an official welfare complaint had been received, and they were in the preliminary stages of an investigation.
Mr Blair was appealing to the public for any information about the incident to be passed onto the Tauranga SPCA by calling: 07-578-0245
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